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COURSE CATALOGUE : RELIGIOUS STUDIES
The Department of Religious Studies brings a variety of perspectives to bear on the study of a significant aspect of human existence: religion. But what is “religion?” Our definitions of the term and our approaches to its study vary. Collectively, we bring historical, theological, philosophical, sociological, ethnographic, political, ethical, literary, feminist, and psychological perspectives to this enterprise. Our courses explore both the phenomenon of religion in general and specific religious traditions from around the world. Though our definitions of religion and our methods for studying it vary, we are united in the understanding that each of these perspectives provides a different way of interpreting religious phenomena and that no single approach is adequate to, let alone exhaustive of, the work of religious studies. This means that the study of religion, as we engage it, is intrinsically interdisciplinary and multicultural.
Religious Studies offers a disciplinary major and minor. It is strongly recommended that students take one of the introductory courses (100 through 110) prior to any other course in the department. Students who wish to enter an upper level course without having taken an introductory course should consult the instructor. All courses toward a religious studies major or minor must be completed with a grade of C- or higher.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR (B.A.)
disciplinary, 11 courses
One introductory religious studies course; two courses each from two concentrations—one in each concentration should be at the 200-level and the other at the 300-level or higher (one of these concentrations must be in a specific religious tradition); REL 461 Senior Seminar; three additional religious studies courses, at least two of which are outside the student’s areas of concentration; and two approved cognate courses from other departments or two other courses in the department. Cognate courses may be chosen from an accepted list or by petition to the adviser.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MINOR
disciplinary, 5 courses
One introductory religious studies course; a 200-level course and a 300-level or higher course in one of the religious studies concentrations; REL 461 Senior Seminar; and one additional religious studies course.
REL 103 Journeys and Stories
REL 105 Religion, Peace, and Conflict
REL 108 Religion and Alienation
REL 109 Imagining American Religion(s)
Judaic Studies Courses
REL 270 Modern Jewish History
REL 271 The Holocaust
REL 272 The Sociology of the American Jew
REL 273 Foundations of Jewish Thought
REL 274 Zionism, Israel and the Middle East Conflict
REL 276 History of East European Jewry
REL 278 Jewish Life and Thought in Modern Times
REL 279 Torah and Testament
REL 370 Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism
REL 401 Literary and Theological Responses to the Holocaust
Christian Traditions Courses
REL 228 Religion and Resistance
REL 232 Rethinking Jesus
REL 237 Christianity and Culture
REL 238 Liberating Theology
REL 240 What Is Christianity?
REL 241 Rastaman and Christ
REL 244 Christianity in East Asia
REL 279 Torah and Testament
REL 305 Tongues of Fire: Pentecostalism Worldwide
REL 345 Tradition Transformers: Systematic Theology
REL 470 Nationalism
Islamic Studies Courses
REL 209 Muslim Jesus
REL 219 Introduction to Islamic Tradition
REL 236 Gender and Islam
REL 242 Islamic Mysticism: The Inward Dance
REL 248 Islamic Ethics and Politics
REL 255 Peace and Violence in Quran
REL 265 The West and the Qur’an
REL 280 Negotiating Islam
REL 286 Islam and Environment
REL 335 Jihad
REL 347 Gender and Globalization in the Muslim World
History of Religions Courses
REL 201 Trekking through Asia
REL 210 Hinduism
REL 211 Buddhism
REL 215 Japanese Religions
REL 246 Iran Before Islam
REL 264 South Asian Religions
REL 282 Hinduism and Popular Narratives
REL 306 The Perfectible Body
Philosophy of Religions Courses
REL 213 Death and Dying
REL 239 Nihilism East and West
REL 243 Suffering and Salvation
REL 254 Conceptions of God, Goddess, Absolute
REL 257 What’s Love Got to Do With It?
REL 260 Religion and Philosophy from a Global Perspective
REL 285 Medieval Philosophy
REL 304 Buddhist Philosophy
Religion, Gender and Sexuality Courses
REL 236 Gender and Islam
REL 250 Race and Religion
REL 281 Women, Religion and Culture
REL 283 Que(e)rying Religious Studies
REL 321 Muslim Women in Literature
REL 347 Gender and Globalization in the Muslim World
REL 354 God, Gender and the Unconscious
REL 382 Toward Inclusive Theology
Multiple Concentrations (The following courses are used to fulfill requirements in consultation with an adviser. The list is not exhaustive.)
REL 226 Religion and Nature
REL 228 Religion and Resistance
REL 249 Native American Religion & Histories
REL 250 Race and Religion
REL 253 Creation Stories: Why do they matter
REL 263 Religion and Social Theory
REL 267 Psychologies of Religion
REL 284 Contesting Gods in Multicultural America
REL 287 Methods in Religious Studies: Asking questions, getting answers*
REL 470 Nationalism
*Strongly recommended for majors and minors in RS, and for other students in humanities interested in methodology and research skills
ASN 101 Trekking through Asia
ASN 264 South Asian Religions
ASN 310 Mahabharata
PHIL 271 Medieval Philosophy
RCOL 121 Holocaust: Witness and Hope
REL 103 Journeys and Stories What does it mean to live a myth or story with one's life or to go on a pilgrimage? How are myths and voyages religious, and can storytelling and journeying be meaningful in our contemporary situation? This course begins by focusing on the journeys and stories found within traditional religious frameworks. It then turns to the contemporary world and asks whether modern individuals in light of the rise of secularism and the technological age can live the old stories or must they become non-religious, or religious in a new manner. (Anwar, offered alternate years)
REL 105 Religion, Peace, and Conflict What is religion? What counts as peace? How do religion and other social institutions contribute to, and are influenced by, peace or conflicts? This course explores on humans' search for meaningful and peaceful life and on the role of religion in such pursuit. It will first of all investigate the meaning, elements, and functions of religion in humans' pursuit of peace and meaning. It will then examine the meaning of peace and conflicts and the conditions that contribute to peace or conflicts. In turn, the course will look at the ways in which peace or conflicts may influence religion. Finally, the course will examine the role religion plays in peacemaking efforts.
REL 108 Religion and Alienation What is religion, and how is it part of human experience? What shapes have religious ideas and institutions taken in confrontation with the contemporary world? How has the phenomenon of alienation contributed to the development of religion and religious responses? How have specific groups that have suffered alienation - Jews, Blacks, American Indians, Rastafarians and women - coped with their situations through the appropriation and modification of religious tradition? This course explores these issues, as well as religious, social, and existential interpretations of alienation set out by 20th century thinkers in the West. (Dobkowski, offered alternate years)
REL 109 Imagining American Religion(s) What does it mean to imagine an American religion? This course explores that question in two ways. One way is to work towards a definition of the terms in the title of this course: what is an "American"? What is "religion"? What does it mean to "imagine" these things? The other way we explore the question of American religion is to examine various attempts to make meaning in the United States. How do different social groups "imagine American religion"? Does that change and, if so, why and how? Why does it matter how people imagine American religion? (Salter, offered annually)
REL 201 Trekking through Asia Welcome to the "Asian Century." Asia has re-emerged as the center of the world, after a brief hiatus that started in the 18th century. With histories and religious traditions stretching back three millennia, today we see cultures across Asia have transformed in ways to meet the demands of our rapidly changing world. China, Japan, and India are three of the world's top economies. Asia contains six of the world's ten largest countries, and is home to over half of the world's population and two of the world's major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. For decades Asian countries have been leaders in global manufacturing, and Asian universities are now renowned centers for scientific and medical innovation. Fifty percent of the declared nuclear-weapon states are also in the region. Simply put, Asia matters a great deal! In this course, we trek through the Asian past and present, exploring this vast and vibrant region. Through writings and travelogues that documented the peoples and lands of places stretching from the Sea of Japan to Persia, and from Java to the Mediterranean Sea, we will learn about the cultural systems that helped shape Asian societies. We will consider how these traditions contributed to and were changed by historical interactions in Asia itself, and in relationship to the rest of the world. Join us on the journey!
REL 211 Buddhism This course covers the rise and historical development of Buddhism in South Asia and its spread into Southeast, Central, and East Asia. Through regular writing exercises, extensive use of visual and audio materials, and some fieldwork, students will acquire a basic vocabulary for discussing the ritual practices, ethical systems, and scriptures of Buddhism (e.g., selections from the Pali Canon); situate the major branches of Buddhism in their historical and geographical contexts (e.g., Theravada in Sri Lanka, Vajrayana in Tibet, Zen in Japan); and explore important concepts in each of the traditions and locations in view of significant sociohistorical processes, events, and institutions (e.g., the interaction of Buddhists with Daoists and Confucians in China and the associations of Shinto practitioners and Buddhists in Japan). No prior knowledge of Buddhism is required. (Offered annually)
REL 213 Death and Dying This course examines the inevitable fact of death and the meaning of life this might entail. From the very moment that we are born we are faced with the possibility of death. Death then forms a real and essential component of our existence, our lives. We shall examine this topic through a variety of perspectives, including psychology, philosophy, literature/fiction (such as short stories and poetry), and religion. We will look at the various attitudes and postures towards death; how different people from different backgrounds, cultures, and fields have coped with this fact; the different interpretations of the meaningfulness of life people extract from it; and possible speculations and interpretations people have provided as to why we must die and where, if anywhere, it may possibly lead.
REL 215 Japanese Religions Japan provides a wonderful opportunity to apply the discipline of the history of religions. This field of study traces the rise, development, and changes of religious traditions over time, as well as comparing types of religions. Japanese history begins with the indigenous shamanistic Shinto tradition, which interacts with a number of Buddhist traditions, filtered before their arrival through India, Tibet, and China. This mix is then challenged by Christianity, and most recently has been transformed by the growth of "new" religions in sublime and terrifying forms. This course uses a range of sources in the study of Japanese religions and culture. Selections of poetry, drama, novels, and biographies, as well as rituals and art, provide glimpses of the richness of Japan. Prerequisites: An introductory course in religious studies or permission of instructor. (Krummel, offered occasionally)
REL 219 Introduction to Islamic Religious Traditions This course is a historical study of the rise of Islam from seventh-century Arabia to the current global context. It examines basic beliefs, major figures, sacred scriptures, and rituals of this religious tradition. The course emphasis is on modern developments in Islam, including the Muslim presence in Southeast Asia. (Anwar, offered annually)
REL 225 Japanese Philosophy and Religious Thought The course examines the various strains of Japanese philosophy and intellectual thought that emerge within and from out of the traditions of Shinto, Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, politics, the aesthetic and the military arts, and Western philosophy, from the ancient to the modern periods. We will read the primary texts of a variety of authors and will discuss their implications for understanding reality, knowledge, the self, society, ethics, and religion. Prerequisites: an Asian studies course, a religious studies course, or a philosophy course.
REL 228 Religion and Resistance In this course students explore the ways in which religion and resistance are related. Among other questions, students ask how the religious imagination helps us to see alternate realities and permits us to call into question our current realities. Students also explore the role of religion in legitimizing the status quo and oppression. They ask how religious communities identify and combat oppression. In combating oppression, the class also turns to questions of practice. Is it enough to talk about liberation? Is religion a "call to action?" If so, what is meant by "action?" (Salter, Staff, offered occasionally)
REL 236 Gender and Islam Westernization has brought sweeping changes and challenges to Islamic cultures and religious practices. As a result, political developments, social patterns, and codes of dress have undergone metamorphosis as secular ideologies conflict with traditional religious beliefs. The role of women continues to undergo transformation. How will these changes affect Muslim identity in the 21st century? (Anwar, offered annually)
REL 237 Christianity and Culture What is the relationship between what Christian groups do and how they understand themselves? This course uses case studies of a wide variety of Christian communities, from a Native American community in the contemporary U.S. to the Christian communities of the Apostle Paul, to examine the relationship between theory and practice in Christianity. Special emphasis is placed on the questions of whether or how Christian communities can produce significant social change. (Salter, offered alternate years)
REL 238 Liberating Theology In the popular imagination we often associate Christianity with the elites, colonizers, or oppressors in history. But what happens when we rethink Christianity from the perspective of those marginalized from mainstream society? This course does that with the help of major 20th-century theologians who might in some way be considered part of the Liberation Theology movement. Key perspectives covered include Latin American liberation theology, feminist theology, black theology, and others.
REL 240 What is Christianity? This course is an introduction to Christianity designed both for students with no familiarity at all with Christianity and for students who have been raised in Christian traditions, but who are not familiar with the critical study of religion or the breadth of Christian traditions. Students explore Christianity using primary readings from Christian scriptures, historical readings on the development of various Christian traditions, and theological readings about the various interpretations of key Christian symbols in different Christian traditions. (Salter, offered alternate years)
REL 242 Islamic Mysticism: Inner Dance One of the most enigmatic and enamoring aspects of Islam is Islamic mysticism or Sufism. What is Sufism and how has it come to be such a pervasive presence in Islamic civilization? The Sufi's goal is often defined as the unveiling of the Divine light leading to union or annihilation. Sufi theoreticians have often used simple imagery, symbolism, and storytelling for expression. This course addresses the classical Sufi thought through theoretical expressions and texts, current orders, and its presence in the West. Comparative references to other mystical traditions such as Christian mystical thought, Hasidism, and Yoga are also made. (Anwar, offered alternate years)
REL 250 Race and Religion This course will explore the relationships among race, ethnicity and religion. Using a variety of methods, ranging from theological and literary analysis to social scientific and historical analysis, this course will explore how race, ethnicity and religion are defined, constructed, and related to one another. Particular attention will be focused on exploring how race, ethnicity and religion function as important makers of identity (both individually and socially), modes of expression, agents of social change, and agents of oppression.
REL 253 Creation Stories: Why They Matter This course fosters educational conversations on the nature of the world from theistic and non-theistic perspectives. It will elaborate on the world's origin (creation, emanation, and the worlds' eternity), the law of nature, freedom and predestination, ethics, religious devotion, and eschatology. Some of the questions in this course will include: What is the origin of the universe? Is the world a product of creation, emanation, or evolution? How do religious traditions characterize the nature of the universe? How does religion relate to the world? Are religion and science in conflict or complementary? In what way can we relate religion and science? How does our view of the world influence our discourse in ethics, politics, science, and religion? (Kafrawi, Fall)
REL 255 Peace and Violence in Qur’an This course explores Qur'anic view on peace and violence. It will discuss Qur'anic views regarding the meaning of Islam and its treatment of various forms of peace including liberation, justice, equality, freedom, and tolerance, as well as those of violence including war, self-defense, killing, suicide, sacrifice, and punishment. To appreciate the meaning of Qur'anic verses on these issues, the course will pay attention to the horizon of the questions focusing on their specific circumstances. Throughout the semester, the class will discuss questions on Qur'anic support for peace and violence. The following list constitutes some of those questions: Does the Qur'an support peace or violence? How is peace to be achieved in a Qur'anic worldview? What kinds of violence does the Qur'an allow or disallow to take place? Since Qur'anic verses seem to suggest both peace and violence, to what extent does the Qur'an promote peace and to what extent does it allow violence? Does the Qur'an promote peace/violence as an end or as a means? What are the historical circumstances that students of the Qur'an should know in order to better understand the meaning of Qur'anic verses regarding peace and violence? (Kafrawi, Fall, offered alternate years)
REL 260 Religion and Philosophy What is religion? What is philosophy? Do their paths ever cross? Where do they meet? This course explores philosophically what it means to be religious. Can one be religious and at the same time also be rational and critical? Is it possible to examine philosophically the origins of the religious consciousness or way of being? And what do we mean by "religion" anyway? How can we make sense out of the plurality of, and disagreements amongst, religions? The course engages in a cross-cultural exploration of the meaning of religion. It does so by looking at texts of philosophy, religious thought, and theory, expressing both religious and non-religious perspectives and a variety of traditions. (Krummel, offered alternate years)
REL 265 The West and the Qur'an The course examines the historical and contemporary Western perception and treatment of the Qur'an and its impact on the Western portrayal of Islam. It explores the discourses about the Qur'an in the media, academic, and public settings. It also compares and contrasts the values and ideals of the Qur'an vis-a-vis those of the West. It especially addresses the question of compatibility between the Qur'an and the West. Topics include Western perception of the origin of the Qur'an, Western scholarship on the Qur'an, Western portrayal of the Qur'an in the media, Western's Qur'anic view of women, Western interpretation of the Qur'an, and Muslims in the West and their view of the Qur'an. (Kafrawi, offered alternate years)
REL 271 The Holocaust This course analyzes the background and history of the Holocaust; its impact on the Jewish community in Europe and worldwide; theological reactions as reflected in the works of Buber, Fackenheim, and Rubenstein; the question of resistance; the problem of survival; the Elie Wiesel syndrome; and collective guilt leading to the creation of the State of Israel. It also examines the nature of the human, society, religion, and politics post-Auschwitz. (Dobkowski, offered annually)
REL 272 Sociology of the American Jew This course examines the sociological, religious, and historical complexion of the American Jewish community. It attempts to deal with such issues as immigration, religious trends, anti-Semitism, assimilation, adjustment, identity, and survival, and it attempts to understand the nature of the American Jewish community. It analyzes this experience by utilizing sociological and historical insights, as well as by looking at immigrant literature in its cultural and historical context. (Dobkowski, offered alternate years)
REL 273 Jewish Thought This course traces the foundations of Jewish religious and philosophical thought from the Bible, Rabbinic literature, Talmudic Judaism, the Kabbalah, medieval philosophy, and mysticism, to contemporary Jewish thought. It is an attempt to understand the "essence" of Judaism and to trace how it has developed over time and been influenced by other traditions. It also examines the impact of Judaism on Islamic and Western European thought. (Dobkowski, offered alternate years)
REL 274 Zionism, Israel, and the Middle East Conflict An examination of the roots of Zionism - a complicated religious, ideological, and political movement. Such external factors as the Holocaust and the acute problems of the surviving refugees; the conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine; the breakdown of the British Mandate and the mutual rivalries of the Western powers in the Middle East; and the East-West conflict in the global scene are some of the historical forces which accelerated the creation of the Jewish state that are examined. But attention is also given to the internal intellectual and spiritual forces in Jewish life, which were at least as important and which constitute the ultimately decisive factor. (Dobkowski, offered occasionally)
REL 281 Women, Religion and Culture When theorists describe the lives of religious people and the meaning of religion, they often speak of homo religious, religious man. What happens when we move beyond a focus upon men to examine the religious lives of women? This course focuses exclusively upon women, located within and enacting a variety of cultures and religions. In doing so, it considers women's agency and oppression, the significance of female (or feminine) religious imagery, and the interweaving of women's religious lives with such imagery. (Staff, offered alternate years)
REL 283 Que(e)rying Religious Studies What do religion and sexuality have to do with each other? This course considers a variety of religious traditions with a focus on same-sex eroticism. In the process, students are introduced to the fundamental concerns of the academic study of religion and lesbian/gay/queer studies. Among the topics considered are the place of ritual and performance in religion and sexuality, the construction of religious and sexual ideals, and the role of religious formulations in enforcing compulsory heterosexuality. Prerequisites: Any 100-level religious studies course or permission of instructor. (Staff, offered alternate years)
REL 284 Contesting Gods in America This course is a conversation about common, scriptural, theological, and cultural grounds, methods, and programs for interfaith dialogues in the multicultural America. As religious traditions often use the same concepts and moral idioms, this course discusses the shared foundations, values, ideals, and concerns of diverse religious traditions and how they get embodied in the everyday discourses, actions and interactions of religious believers. This course particularly addresses the use and abuse of the concept of God in enhancing or vilifying human relations to others respectively as manifested in the believers' responses to religious truth claims. Among the topics explored in this course are human need for faiths and interfaith dialogues, God as a common denominator of faiths and as a source of conflicts, tolerance and coexistence, the myth of God's superiority, and exclusives and pluralism. (Kafrawi, offered alternate years)
REL 285 Medieval Philosophy This course is a survey on common themes in Medieval philosophy. It explores issues elaborated on in the works of major Christian, Muslim, and Jewish philosophers. Among these issues are Being and its modalities, Perfect Being and the world, free and pre-determination, universals and particulars, and causality. It especially discusses the interplay between Platonic, Aristotelian and Neoplatonic views on the one hand and religious teachings on the other, as expressed in the works of medieval philosophers such as Augustine, Sa'adia, Ibn Sina, Maimonides, Averroes, Aquinas, and Ibn Tufayl.
REL 286 Islam and Environment The course offers an overview of key concepts in Islamic environmental ethics, Muslim responses to environmental catastrophes, and the link between local and global forces in Islamic societies and their impacts on environment. The course will begin with a comparative ethical approach on the relationship between humans and their environment by introducing the concept of the sacred. The foundations of Islamic ethics will follow. The course will also evaluate Muslims' treatment of their environment, as well as their responses to climate change and natural disasters, using theological, ethical, textural, political, cultural, and civic approaches. Such discussions will be contextualized in the interplay between local factors that shape Muslims' attitudes and behaviors toward their environment and global forces, such as colonialism and capitalism, that exacerbate the use and abuse of nature. Social justice, sustainability, Islamic socialism and anti-capitalism, and disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of tsunamis are also key topics in the course.
REL 287 Asking Questions, Getting Answers This course introduces students to the idea that there are methods for doing research in the study of religion, and that choices need to be made about those methods. The faculty member will work with students to identify the methods appropriate for different types of question, the types of choices that need to be made in undertaking research, and how to conduct different types of research. Methods covered may include historical, philosophical, ethnographic, sociological, anthropological, theological, literary, legal, feminist, or others. In addition to fulfilling a requirement for the major, this course could be useful for honors, embedded research courses in other disciplines and programs, independent studies, independent research, and senior seminar.
REL 288 Religious Extremism Religious extremism takes shape and flourishes equally in both secular and religious communities. The rising phenomena of exclusionary religious sentiments and intolerance in the United States and across the globe puts into question the notion that a particular religion is immune from extremism while others are more prone to it. They challenge humanity's most cherished values of peace, compassion, and justice that have been viewed as positive contributions of religions to peace. This course will study some basic concepts, examines some key theories, and scrutinize some illustrative cases of religious extremism across traditions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. It will also investigate the roots of religious extremism from historical, social, political, and theological vantage points. Of a special interest is the connection between religious extremism and religious violence. Among the questions addressed in this course include: What is religious extremism? What social conditions give birth to religious extremism? How does religious extremism interconnect with religious violence?
REL 304 Buddhist Philosophy In this course we will examine the philosophy behind Buddhism, and doctrines that developed and evolved through its long history of 2,500 years, and that gave to a variety of schools of thought. We will begin with the ideas of the founder, Guatama the Buddha himself, recorded in the Nikayas, and then proceed with schools and thinkers from India to China and finally to Japan. Readings will be drawn from: Indian Abhidharma thought; the Madhyamika school of Nagarjuna; the Yogacara school of Asanga and Vasubandhu; Tibetan interpretations of Madhyamaka and Yogacaral the great Chinese schools of T'ien-tai (Tiantai), Hua-yen (Hwayan), and Chan (Zen); the Japanese thinkers, Kukai of Shingon Buddhism, Shinran of True Pure Land Buddhism, and Dogen of Soto Zen; and the modern Buddhist-inspired philosophers, Nishida Kitaro, Nishitani Keiji, and Abe Masao. Through the process of looking at their ideas, we shall be asking the perennial philosophical questions of, What is real? What is knowledge? Who or what am I? What is the point or purpose of life? and How do I realize it? While exploring these questions, students will thus be introduced to a variety of approaches that have appeared within the history of Buddhist traditions spanning South, Central, and East Asia. Prerequisite: one course either in philosophy and/or Asian religions, preferably with Buddhism included (if a 300-level course). (Krummel, Spring, offered alternate years)
REL 311 Mahabharata The Mahabharata: Religion, Literature, and Ideology offers a comprehensive study of the Mahabharata, the longer of the two Sanskrit epics and arguable the most foundational work of Indian civilization in terms of its exhaustive commentaries on religion, psychology, and social construction. Everything we read will be in translation, starting with a lengthy precis of the main story, followed by detailed excerpts from portions of the epic's eighteen books. Throughout the semester, students will read a selection of recent scholarship on the epic that discusses the epic's historical background, religious significance, and mythological innovations. A major aim of this course, furthermore, will be to understand and explore the Mahabharata as a highly fluid, geographically and linguistically polyvalent work that has been, and continues to be, recast and reinterpreted in India (and Elsewhere) in a variety of media. To this end, we will watch portions of the televised Mahabharata, Peter Brook's larger-than-life stage version of the epic, and selection from Hindi cinema. Prerequisites: REL 210/ASN 210 or REL 264/ASN 264. (Spring, offered alternate years)
REL 335 Jihad This course discusses exegetical, theological, historical, and contemporary roots of jihad in Islamic and Western scholarship. It particularly explores the meaning and significance of jihad as exemplified in the history of Islamic civilization extending from the time of Muhammad to our contemporary contexts. In addition to exploring various forms of jihad, it examines the view that jihad is waging war against "the other" including non-believers, polytheists, apostates, followers of other religions, and the West. This course also traces Western encounters with jihad and its impact on the clashes and dialogues between the West and the Muslim world. Among the questions discussed are: What is jihad? Does jihad mean the same thing to all Muslims? Does the Qur'an support jihad? Did Muhammad demand Muslims to do jihad? How do Muslims of various schools interpret the notion of jihad? Is jihad the same thing as waging war against the West? Does jihad connote wars against unbelievers, apostates, and followers of other religions? If so, what justifies Muslims to engage in jihad as physical struggle against the other? Does jihad pose danger to humanity? Does Al-Qaeda's terrorism count as jihad? Does Osama bin Laden's fatwa to retaliate against the West substantiate jihad? If so, how do we respond to jihad? (Kafrawi, Fall, offered alternate years)
REL 345 Seminar: Tradition Transformers This course focuses on key Christian theologians/figures who have shaped Christian thought. The work of these thinkers has been fundamental to the development of and changes in Western thought and society. The emphasis of the course is on close readings of selections from the primary texts (in translation) and biographical/historical readings which contextualize each author. (Salter, offered alternate years)
REL 347 Gender and Globalization in Muslim World This course explores the extent to which globalization has affected the identities of Muslim women and their gender constructs in the Muslim world. While globalization has provided Muslim women with the newly found freedom to explore choices outside their constructed traditional roles, it has to a different degree trapped women into the cultures of materialism, consumerism, and liberation. Among the questions addressed in this course are whether globalization is a blessing or a blight? What has been the impact of globalization in the Muslim world? Does it affect men and women differently? Does globalization reinforce the inequality of men and women in the Muslim societies? To what extent does globalization affect the gendered divisions of private and public, resources, sexual division of labor, male-female power and authority, and the production of identity in the context of globalization? How do feminists, womanists, and Islamists restructure gender awareness, power relations and opportunities in the public space? What kind of religious is indigenous resistance challenging the impact of globalizations on gender issues in the Muslim world? (Anwar, offered alternate years)
REL 401 Responses to Holocaust It is increasingly obvious that the Holocaust is a watershed event, a phenomenon that changes our perceptions of human nature, religion, morality, and the way we view reality. All that came before must be re-examined and all that follows is shaped by it. Yet, precisely because of its dimensions, the meaning of the Holocaust is impenetrable. Language is inadequate to express the inexpressible. But the moral imperative demands an encounter. This course examines some of the more meaningful "encounters" with the Holocaust found in literature, films, and theology. It is through the creative and theological mediums that post-Holocaust human beings have attempted most sensitively and seriously to come to terms with the universal implications of the Holocaust. (Dobkowski, offered every three years)
REL 450 Independent Study
REL 456 1/2 Credit Independent Study
REL 461 Seminar: Theory in Religious Studies Religious studies is an endeavor to understand phenomena referred to in the general categories "religion" and "religious." What does it mean to be religious in U.S. culture? In other cultures? What is religion? What are some major religious questions? What are ways people have responded to these questions? What is theory? What is experience? How are theory and experience related? In this course students discuss diverse theoretical perspectives on religion, differentiate among kinds of theories, evaluate them, and apply them to particular examples. The course offers a context for recognizing the contribution of prior work in religious studies and provides a capstone for the major. (Fall, offered annually)
REL 470 Seminar: Nationalism Is nationalism a form of religion? How do you evaluate it? Is it a form of idolatry? This course will explore ideas of American nationalism through the lens of theory in Religious Studies. It will explore central myths of American exceptionalism, the notion of civil religion, and rituals of nationalism. The course will use both descriptive and evaluative methods to explore nationalism. (Salter, offered occasionally)
REL 495 Honors